Preprints serve as a method for disseminating a manuscript with scientific findings to the broader scientific community.
The following animation created by ASAPbio (Accelerating Science and Publication in biology) provides an overview of preprints, advantages, differences from journal publications, and how researchers can submit both preprints and publications in journals to share their research findings.
There are several preprint servers available, which serve as platforms for researchers to share their preliminary findings before they undergo formal peer review for journal publication. Each preprint server often focuses on specific academic disciplines, areas of study, or even countries.
Preprints can receive "digital object identifiers" (DOIs), which allow them to be cited in other research papers, grant applications, and presentations.
Because of their faster dissemination researchers can use preprints to demonstrate their initial contributions to the scientific community as soon as the manuscript is written and receive feedback about their findings. Some servers already accept comments to foster the discussion.
I have several papers that were initially shared with the community through these servers, such as those within a field of research or academic discipline - Psychological Science:
PsyArXIv - Preprint archive for psychological sciences (also the choice by the American Psychological Association), managed by the Society for the Improvement in Psychology Science. The technological support is supplied by the Center for Open Science, a non-profit organization also used for sharing data and other resources.
And areas of study, such as the MetaArXiv, which is Interdisciplinary, but focused on manuscripts addressing topics about ways to improve research transparency and reproducibility:
However, it is very important to understand that preprints must be approached with some caution. The findings presented in preprints should always be evaluated through peer-review and further research should be conducted to have robust findings. Readers should be aware of these constraints.